O'Brien Talks Boston College, Injuries

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Tom O'Brien discusses the upcoming game against Boston College with the media. Included are his thoughts on the status of Russell Wilson, Nate Irving, and much, much more.

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    Tom O'Brien

    How is Russell Wilson doing? Do you think he will play this week?
    We don't know. We'll have to wait and see. Right now Beck is listed as the starter and we're going into the week with him preparing to play.

    Is it a little refreshing to turn to the ACC schedule? You've got the other part behind you... is there maybe a different goal out there?
    [Laughing] Are you saying the ACC isn't as tough as my previous five games? There certainly is because right now you're back in conference and with Clemson losing that puts the back with us.

    It's anybody's guess now as to who will win the conference... every game is a championship game. That's certainly something we look forward to. Boston College is coming in here, and it will be a big game for us on Saturday.

    Nate and Julian Williams aren't on the depth chart. Are they wait-and-see like Russell?
    Anybody that is not on the depth chart is that way... indefinite until they make practice.

    How does it feel playing BC?
    It doesn't seem the same as last year having to go back in the second.... you look at the depth chart and there are still a lot of guys there that I recruited and signed. A lot of people that I still know there. It certainly has a much different feel to it now that I've been here a year-plus.

    What do you think of Boston College and their personnel? What about their new offensive personnel?
    Well, I'm not sure what they are doing. They changed quarterbacks again Saturday, and they seem to be playing two quarterbacks. I'm not quite sure if they are settled on what they are doing.

    They have changed their offense from a year ago. It is probably more of what Steve Logan wants to do. It was smart, obviously keeping Matt [Ryan] in his comfort zone last year. It seems like there are lot of differences than there were last year.

    How are they different?
    There are more options... more reads, more of a spread style. The offense of the late 2000s.

    Why do you believe so many teams are running the spread now?
    We are great copy cats, coaches. If somebody gets an idea, you can steal it... nobody sues you for corporate raiding.... people have had success with it.

    You go back to when the wishbone came in, everyone went to the wishbone for a little while. You have the splitback veer option offense. We talked about it a couple of weeks ago, that is what it is. It's almost like the wishbone again.

    You are reading the dive, pulling and pitching. Instead of pitching, sometimes you're throwing the ball to the perimeter.

    I think the key is the field is now spread. Everybody used to talk about defending from the line of scrimmage to the goalline. Now, you actually are defending from sideline-to-sideline and line of scrimmage to goalline, by spreading the field.

    You're old school though, did it kind of pain you to change to it?
    No, we change a little bit every year. I think you have to do it to suit what your personnel does best. The whole thing on offense is you have to make your quarterback successful. This is an offense that suits Russell Wilson... if we can keep him healthy.

    Are the defenses in this league good, or are the offenses in this league bad?
    I don't know. We've only played one game, against Clemson.

    There have always been teams in the top 50 defensively. There have only been two in the last four years in offense.
    In the top 50? Then you answered your question for yourself... I don't have to answer it [laughing].

    Is that a function of the offense or the defense?
    I think the defenses have been pretty good, and if you look at the people who have been drafted in this league, there have been more defensive personnel. The defense has been ahead of the offense.

    I think it comes down to quarterbacks. We haven't had many quarterbacks in this league drafted, and skill guys at the wide receiver position and running back.

    Did you call the last BC team you had a 'sophomore' team? Would that make these guys seniors?
    No, no. Last year they were a junior-senior team. They had 18 fifth-year guys, and seven fourth-year guys on the two-deep. Now, you look on defense, they are similar. They are all seniors and juniors. So again it is all fifth- and fourth-year guys, with the exception of the one freshman corner which they are playing on defense. They are still that way on defense, but not as much on offense. They lost a pretty good chunk on offense.

    Have a lot of the guys on their defense played for you?
    Almost all of them.

    Brian Toal is a good linebacker. Can you tell the story how you discovered him playing a goalline back?
    When we recruited him, he was a tailback in high school... a running back. He played a little bit on defense. When he came to BC, we started him at linebacker and told him that once he learned linebacker, we would use him as a tailback in short-yardage situations.

    What convinced us that we knew we were right was we were playing West Virginia, I believe it was the last time we played down at Mountaineer Stadium. They did one of those power kicks and he picked it up and took off. Boy, you could see him run. He was running over, through and around guys. Then we started him on short yardage... he was a big back, has a lot of power and he can run.

    The BC athletic director last year said they had a lot of success under Tom but that football was more fun with the new coach?
    Don't quote me last year, it's a whole other year... I don't care what he said.

    I think A.J. [Carr] asked me last year the same question. My response is the same thing. That's over with, and I don't have any comment.

    How well do you think your schedule has prepared you for the last seven games of the season?
    It's hard.... I guess we're going to find out. I think the thing that is tough to judge is with so many injuries that we have incurred, we don't have any real continuity in the program right now.

    If we were whole, and everybody was playing, then you certainly would think that it would be beneficial to us. You can't start throwing guys in there starting their first game, playing two freshmen like we did at one point Saturday night on defenseagainst a team that ends up 10th in the country. It is tough to tell.

    Do you follow the Red Sox as much now as you did then?
    Sure, the Redlegs and Red Sox. National League team and American League team.

    After the USF game, you said that they went after Dwayne Maddox. Can you evaluate his performance?
    They threw the ball. They threw the ball into the boundary the first three passes went in there. It's typical for a first-year, first-time player.

    They must have worked the same passes 20 times. He bites the first time where he shouldn't be, and they throw it behind him. Then he backs up and they throw it outside of him. It's just inexperience, it's nothing else. It's not for lack of effort or he didn't want to do it. He just doesn't have the experience.

    If Nate Irving is in there, they probably don't do it or if they do he makes a better play. You look at all the plays Nate Irving has made for this football team... he's gotten us off the field personally quite a few times.

    Dwayne played his first game... hopefully, he'll get much better this week and be much better this game. I'm sure they'll go after him again. He's got to start making plays and then they'll stop.

    How different would it have been if Maddox wasn't here in the spring?
    He'd be like Sterling Lucas, the backup who had to go in when [Ray] Michel got hurt. Sterling did a nice job. Both of those kids have been playing a good bit, 10, 15 plays a game. Certainly not the 50-play load that Dwayne had to play Saturday night... 61 plays or whatever.

    Are the drops the difficult thing for a freshman linebacker to recognize?
    Recognizing routes, and drops and being where you are supposed to be... they'll put somebody under you and then you better backup because somebody is coming in behind you. Make them throw it in front of you... it's the old take the cheese, jump the guy underneath and then they throw it to the guy behind you.

    Is that something they don't see a lot of in high school
    Oh no, not unless you play a pass offense like that. I don't know... there might not be 15 teams in college that have a pass offense as skilled as they do with their offensive line, quarterback, and wide receivers. Thoughts on USF's offensive line:
    They are very good. They are big, they are powerful, they know their protection... different blitzes. They turn guys loose every once in a while, but then they turn them loose and the quarterback gets rid of the ball or makes you miss.

    The first pass that he hits against DeAndre Morgan, [Antoine] Holmes is right in his face. He makes a great throw. DeAndre is right there, but the kid makes a play. That's good football on their part.

    Is Boston College's defensive line similar?
    They have two draftable [defensive] tackles. Both [Ron] Brace and [B.J.] Raji are 325-pound guys who can run... big. Their ends are both juniors, so they are not draftable right now. The two inside guys and [Brian] Toal are the three seniors in the front seven that are certainly all draftable guys.

    Who came up with the idea to have guys carry out the US flag and NC State flag coming out of the tunnel?
    We talked about it in the offseason and tried to get it done by the first game. Virginia Tech has done it in the past, and we thought being the state school, that is what we ought to do.

    What we do is when we choose the defensive scout team player of the week, and the offensive scout team player of the week, that is their reward. They are honored with carrying the flag out of the tunnel.

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